Buyer Beware

FreeImages.com/Mira Pavlakovic

Devinette: What do Gérard Lhéritier and Bernie Madoff have to do with Egypt? If your answer is pyramids, you’ve won the jackpot — and possibly kept your life savings intact.

I wouldn’t have thought twice about a visit several years ago to the Musée des lettres et manuscrits in Paris had it not been for a question from a friend and friendly reader of our website who wanted to know about the photo now featured at the top of our On en parle page.

Musée des lettres et manuscrits

My husband and I gawked at the mélange of priceless letters and documents and speculated about how the curious collection came to be. We never imagined that Lhéritier, whose museum is now permanently closed, would be investigated for mounting a possible Ponzi scheme that touched the lives of 18,000 investors betting their bank accounts on the future value of La Bonne Justice, a poem by Paul Éluard, or an original manuscript by the Marquis de Sade.

Musée des lettres et manuscrits

When asked what he is living on, Lhéritier states that the courts have forced him to liquidate books and paintings that are dear to him. Le plus beau is the last line in a Monaco-Matin Press Reader article that ran in March of this year. Seated in his garden high in the hills above Nice, the founder of Aristophil opines, “J’ai un profond sentiment d’injustice quand je vois ce que j’ai fait pour le patrimoine écrit.” La Bonne Justice indeed.

A search for scratch paper this morning turned up the beauty below from a stack of old day calendars. Maybe I’m being too literal, but doesn’t avertir mean to warn?

Living Language calendar: Ce sont des collectionneurs avertis.

— Linda

 

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